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28 Ways To Rebound When Everything Goes Wrong, From A Psychologist

Last updated on February 18, 2020

We've all had those days (months or years, anyone?) when it seems that there's nothing but problem after problem. They threaten to knock us down and stop us from moving forward. Times like these can blindside us, but we can emerge from them much wiser and stronger. Here are some top do's, don'ts, and things to remember when it feels like everything is going wrong.

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9 things to remember:

  1. Everything is temporary, even this.
  2. Happiness is a result of your approach to life, not what happens to you.
  3. The things, even those that seem small, that are going right in your life.
  4. The people who are in your corner.
  5. What you care about most and what you can let go of.
  6. You ultimately choose how you react.
  7. Your resilience in other tough situations.
  8. Bad times don't define you, but your approach does.
  9. Worrying, anger, complaining, denial, or any of the infinite other ways we try to circumvent pain when things go wrong won't change the situation.

13 things not to do:

  1. Panic or get too far ahead of yourself.
  2. Go immediately to blame and criticism.
  3. Lash out.
  4. Self-destruct or numb yourself.
  5. Neglect your needs.
  6. Ignore your intuition.
  7. Focus on what should have been instead of what is.
  8. Try to control what is out of your control.
  9. Remind yourself of every other terrible thing that has ever happened to you.
  10. Ask "what if" or "why me" without also reminding yourself of what's possible and what makes you strong.
  11. Focus on others' opinions because they're a reflection of the speaker, not you.
  12. Worry about who you are or are not impressing.
  13. Isolate yourself or others.

28 things to do:

  1. Accept, accept, accept.
  2. Stick to the present. Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, focus on what is actually happening now and what is actually in your power to do now.
  3. Focus on realistic expectations for yourself and the situation.
  4. Differentiate what you can and what you cannot change.
  5. Take one step, then another. Even if they're just baby steps, keep moving.
  6. Rather than focusing on the worst case, think instead of what else is possible.
  7. Look for the lesson. Challenging situations can often teach us what we have left to learn.
  8. Keep a positive attitude by remaining focused on solutions, skills, and strengths.
  9. Start small.
  10. Spend time with the people who support you.
  11. Appreciate the things going well, savor simple pleasures, and try to find the hidden gifts in the difficult times.
  12. Take care of yourself.
  13. Treat yourself with love and respect.
  14. Rejuvenate rather than simply tuning out or unplugging.
  15. Ask for help sooner rather than later.
  16. Consult or get a second opinion.
  17. Take the steps you need to keep working toward what you want in life.
  18. Look at the situation from someone else's point of view.
  19. Give it the test of time. Ask yourself if this will mean the same thing in one, five, or 10 years.
  20. Move your body, even if it's just walking for 10 minutes.
  21. Laugh. Watch a comedy. Call up a bubbly friend. Consider the stand-up routine version of this situation.
  22. Help someone else in need.
  23. Write. Vent your frustrations about this situation, brainstorm strategies to get out of it, or write about a more positive time in your life.
  24. Find a creative outlet.
  25. Read and reread motivational, inspirational, or encouraging words from others.
  26. Get outdoors and get inspired. Watch the sun rise or set. Listen to the birds. Take it all in to gain perspective.
  27. Give yourself a minute to regroup. Assess damages, sort out what can and cannot be done, or just get out of the middle of the situation.
  28. Choose one big goal to work on in order to make a lasting change.
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Leslie Ralph, M.A., Ph.D.
Leslie Ralph, M.A., Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Leslie Ralph, M.A., Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently works at The University of Arizona. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN., and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Texas Tech University. Leslie approaches treatment from a foundation in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and narrative therapy. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, body image and eating disorders, adjustment, and phase of life problems.